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Oakland Patient Death Looms Over Return Of Locked-Out Nurses

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Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland (Coolcaesar/Wikipedia Commons)

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OAKLAND (KCBS) – Nurses locked out of five Sutter Health hospitals after a 24-hour strike returned to work Tuesday amid an investigation over a patient death at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland.

State regulators, county officials and the Oakland Police Department are all investigating the death of 66-year-old Judith Ming while under the care of a replacement nurse hired to cover during the lockout.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

Ming was being treated for ovarian cancer, and may have been given a nutritional supplement intravenously instead of through a feeding tube, according to the Oakland Tribune.  Earlier, police had said a preliminary investigation indicated Ming had been given a lethal dosage of non-prescribed medication.

Alta Bates officials quickly acknowledged that Ming died because of a medical error but have not described what happened.  The California Nurses Association insisted it was a tragedy that could have been prevented.

“I was there at 7 that day to work, ready to work, and they wouldn’t let me in. I felt like I could have prevented this from occurring,” said Alicia Torres, a nurse in the oncology unit who said she knew Ming.

Ming worked as an office administrator for the non-profit Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation as well as for the actor Danny Glover at Carrie Productions in Berkeley, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Alta Bates and the other hospitals where 20,000 nurses went on strike Thursday hired replacement nurses on five-day contracts that ended Monday.

All hospitals use so-called traveling nurses on a daily basis to cover routine staffing shortages.

Officials at Alta Bates pointed out that replacement nurses undergo the same rigorous training and licensing as nurses hired full-time.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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